ManageEngine, HelpAG talk hotel security

Securing the public network is one of the key challenges facing the hotel industry, which has recently come under a series of attacks.

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ManageEngine, HelpAG talk hotel  security Ajay Kumar, product marketing manager, ManageEngine
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By  Georgina Enzer Published  May 26, 2013

Securing the public network is one of the key challenges facing the hotel industry, which has recently come under a series of attacks.

Ajay Kumar, Product Marketing Manager, ManageEngine

How does a hotel allow guests to use its network while keeping its data safe?
Hotels offer free internet service as a goodwill gesture to all of their guests. These guests will be from all walks of life, and many different countries and the hotel has to ensure that the guests do not intrude into the hotel network.

We have seen most hotels segregate the access to internet and the internal IT resources at the switch level. Ideally, they keep the wired and wireless guest connections in a completely separate network.

Few hotels do offer guest services over the local area network, which allow guest’s to access the hotel IT resource. As they have an overlap in usage, these guest resources are segmented to a separate network with secured access privileges. An example of this could be an exclusive login access or one time password to the guest services.

What are the biggest threats to hotel networks?
Like any corporate IT network, the hotels also face the internal threat from their own staff and external threat through the internet. The attacker (insider or outsider) may look for data like credit card, private information about celebrities etc.  These threats are controlled with legacy security tools, which are grossly insufficient to handle such threats. The other important IT threat to the hotel is the guest Internet access.

The hotel also has the responsibility to protect their guests from malicious attacks to save their reputation. There was an instance where the federal agency (FBI) warned hotels guests that malware maybe getting installed on their laptops in the guise of software updates. This clearly indicates that the hotel has to secure the internet services they offer to the guests.The guest might also bring in a laptop/ smartphone, which is already infected with virus or malware. These devices pose additional security threats.

Are hotels more or less difficult to secure than a similar sized business?
Yes, of course they are more difficult! Unlike a typical company network, where guests have limited or no access, hotels are more vulnerable. The guest Internet access adds a new dimension to the vulnerability.

In a usual corporate network, the IT resources are clearly governed by policies and they are accessed by known set of employees. The guest access is very minimal or nonexistent. This clearly makes the hotels more unsecure and difficult to manage.

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